So You’re Going to Breastfeed Past 12 Months?

Breastfeeding ToddlersSo you’re going to breastfeed past 12 months?

Are you one of “those” moms?

Isn’t that kind of weird?

Babies can start drinking cow’s milk at 12 months, so they don’t need yours.

Once a baby is old enough to start asking for it, they are too old to nurse.

 

Up until 6 months ago, these were all thoughts that I had about nursing past 12 months.

I stopped breastfeeding my first 3 boys the week they turned one.

My thoughts on nursing longer have changed with Beau.

I initially breastfed Beau past a year because he refused to drink from a sippy cup, and because I wasn’t ready for that “last” with my last baby. Also, the longer I did nurse him, the more I could see that I was going to experience some sweet times with him that I didn’t experience with the other 3.

Here are some non-nutritional reasons why I absolutely loved nursing him at an older age.

The older they get, the more they like to entertain you. Small babies nursing will give you an adorable milk smile. 18 month olds will try to entertain you with a smile full of milk, and a full belly giggle, that is so contagious you have to take a break from the nursing and recompose yourself. They may even try to blow milk bubbles. Yeah that’s fun.

I’ve memorized his face, but he has also memorized mine. My older baby loves to play with my hair and touch my face and just watch me while he nurses. His little hands have sweetly run over every inch of my face.

He searches for my hand to hold. I always held my infants hands to nurse, but it is different to get to hold the hand of an older baby who is initiating it themselves. He searches to hold my hand or hair or just me. As if holding my heart isn’t enough.

He acknowledges the bond we have enough to ask for it. While I used to think it was weird to nurse a baby who is old enough to ask for it, whether verbally or by motions, now I absolutely love it. He points his way through the house to “our chair,” and it makes me feel so special.

 

 

I also love the effect it has had on my older boys.

I can remember at least 3 times when one of them saw a picture of a Victoria’s Secret model and said “hey mom, she looks like you.” And that’s not because I actually look like them, it’s because instead of seeing those pictures as sexy and racy, they see women who have boobs for breastfeeding. Because I have done it so long, breastfeeding has become a natural, normal thing to them. They would see another nursing mother in public and not think twice about it. It makes me laugh to think about my boys assuming those models are just skinny mommas about to nurse a child, instead of the way those models are actually marketed. Yes, I know that the day will come too soon when my boys see women like that and don’t think “breastfeed,” but I am very thankful that their first exposure to boobs was what boobs natural function is intended to be.

 

Breastfeeding was a health necessity for my first, a financial necessity for the twins, and for my last baby it was just pure enjoyment.

Beau and I have now come to an end of our breastfeeding experience, and I am a little sad.   I will never get to do this again. My body is done with this part of motherhood, and my very last baby is growing up too fast. I am thankful that I went ahead and nursed him longer, even though it was “weird”.   If you think about it, people do things that they are “too old for” all the time, so nursing to 18 months for me isn’t really that weird.

If you are a breastfeeding mom who is considering going past a year, let me encourage you to give it a try! You will experience a different kind of breastfeeding.

Who cares if someone thinks it is weird, those moments are so worth it.

 

If you liked this, then you might also like:

8 Selfish Reasons to Breastfeed Blog

56 thoughts on “So You’re Going to Breastfeed Past 12 Months?

    • Brandi spence says:

      I am nursing my fifth baby, in the past I worked long hours so breastfeeding ended before the 12 month goal. Now feeding the last baby , she is 16 mos. I am having difficulty transitioning and discontinuing nursing. She isn’t ready but I am and my body is also. Any help and suggestions please!!!

      • Stacey says:

        I am also ready to stop with my 15month old. But having a difficult time for she continues to ask for it.

        • Ashley says:

          Brandi and Stacey- I’m not sure what a “pro” would tell you, but I just weaned Beau at almost 18 months. We just gradually got down to nursing only morning, nap, and night. And then I started offering (strongly encouraging) a sippy cup before I would nurse him. He gradually started to take it instead of me.
          But honestly, what probably helped the most was letting my mom keep him overnight after the last day I nursed him. He did fine with a cup for her and then we just stuck with a cup after that.

  1. Jade says:

    That’s so true! I’m due with my second any time now and still nursing my first. We are going to try to juggle tandem nursing as I just can’t imagine weaning my 16 month old when she is clearly not ready. I didn’t imagine going this far either, but I can’t imagine stopping just yet so we will see how it all goes!
    Anyway, I love this post!

    • Hillary Simpson says:

      Good for you!! I am currently tandem nursing my 2.5 year old and his 11 month old brother. It is totally do – able and totally worth it!!

      • Ashley says:

        I never tandem nursed a big with a little, but I did tandem the twins. It was challenging but I loved it!

  2. kathy says:

    This is very beautifully written and I applaud you for breastfeeding this long. Along with the emotional bonding, your breast milk is tailored to your environment and still protecting him! Kudos!

  3. Amanda says:

    Wow! I’m still nursing my 2 year old, and lately have been dreading it. The nursing aversion kicks in big time during my period. It’s nice to be reminded right now how sweet it can be. Breastfeeding has been a major bonding experience for me and my son. There are certainly times that I am just touched out, but there are also times that I’m reminded of why we are still doing it. Times like when he falls and hurts himself, and the easiest way to calm him down is to nurse. Or times he is soooo tired, and yet a nursing session will usually put him to sleep. And even though he pulls my hair more times then he caresses it there are also times he laughs and carries on about milk squirting out. So thank you. Thank you for reminding me this week that it isn’t always like this. 🙂

    • Brittney Camille says:

      I really appreciate both of you sharing your stories. My baby is 1 week shy of turning 2 and I still bf no cows milk ever. There are moments when I’m soooooo over the nursing but the moments when I catch a glimpse of my heart in his eyes while nursing makes it so worth it. Glad to know that I’m not horrible for having these feelings, but instead human.

    • Ashley says:

      Yes! I also was thankful that nursing would help when he got hurt or was overly tired! Breastfeeding can be challenging though! I’m glad you were encouraged and reminded of some of the good moments in breastfeeding. 🙂

  4. Megan says:

    Thank you for this! My first baby boy is now 6 months old but I have planned on nursing past 12 months from the start. You have totally reaffirmed for me that it’s definitely the right thing to do no matter what other people think or say! thank you!

    • Ashley says:

      Oh good! I’m glad. Momma knows what works for her baby and family. I didn’t have the intentions to go past 1. I’m not sure why that was what my “cut off” originally was. But now I’m sooo thankful that I went longer.

  5. Karie says:

    This is beautiful! Thanks for writing this. I nursed my first son until he was about 7 months old then stopped due to my work schedule and a lack of fluidity on my part. I have been nursing my baby for about 6 months now and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. The bond is something special. I really enjoyed your article.

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you so much! Happy to hear you enjoyed it. Good luck to you! These sweet moments are ones you will never experience again. It is so special!

  6. Sarah says:

    I love this article. Very well written. My daughter will be 1 at the end of September and I’m dreading the thought that our nursing journey is getting closer to coming to an end. Initially I said I would be done at 1 year. Now, I’m saying maybe 1 1/2 or just shy of 2 sounds better. We will move to nursing mainly in the morning and at bedtime, but this is my first time and I already feel guilty thinking of telling her no when she asks for it (she already has her ways of asking). Bookmarking this for some of my other Mommy friends. 🙂

    • Ashley says:

      I know! It is so hard to slow down especially if they aren’t self-weaning themselves. Almost like if they are good with keeping it up then you don’t want to say no! We did morning and bedtime for quite awhile before completely weaning. It was a nice mixture of not being tied down every 3 hours, but still getting to experience that bonding time.

  7. Courtney says:

    I am currently nursing my last baby, a 10 month old boy. I have been thinking hard about breastfeeding past a year, this really really helped with a couple of little questions I had been asking myself. Thanks!! 🙂

  8. Brittany says:

    *sigh*.
    Thank you. My twin boys are 20+ months, and have no idea what a bottle is or that milk comes in a cup. I had no idea when I started that I could breastfeed two for so long, and now that the writing is on the wall for the gradual decline of moments together nursing, I’m trying to cherish these “snacks” I have left. Thanks for putting such a nice damper on the peanut gallery in the back of my head, full of the comments of naysayers, and for encouraging me to fully engage and enjoy my babies-who-aren’t-really-babies-anymore. <3

    • Ashley says:

      Wow! Way to go!! I nursed my twins until 12 months and weaned just because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do…I’m kinda sad that I didn’t push to last longer. I’m glad you were encouraged! 🙂

  9. Elaine says:

    I am so interested to see another perspective out there! In my circle of friends it is uncommon to stop breast feeding before the 2 year mark! I believe it’s called baby led weening; that is just what I did. I pulled away to see if baby was ready to ween or protested. My oldest son was 2 years, 9 months when we stopped. My youngest is 21 months and going strong… although just this month the daytime feedings are weening. We will probably have another year of nursing for naps and bedtime only; just like my oldest son.
    I enjoyed the way you pose the article with “the non-nutritional reasons I nursed”.

    • Ashley says:

      Awesome! I don’t have many friends who have done extended breastfeeding. Way to go! It sounds like you have had a good support system. That is great!

  10. Lynee says:

    This was a beautiful read. Thank you for sharing! My little girl is just weeks away from turning 1, and there is no end in sight for us. I love our shared time, and she does too. I don’t have support from anyone around me, so I’m constantly fighting that battle with them – but it’s all worth that time I get to spend cuddled up with my little one

    • Ashley says:

      That takes some strength whenever everyone else is unsupportive. Its awesome that you are taking a stand for what you feel is best. Good luck to you!! It is totally worth being “weird.” 🙂

  11. Natalie says:

    So great 🙂 I’m an accidental triandem nurser. I got pregnant with my second boy when my first was only 3 months old. So they tandem nursed. Then little sister came a year behind the second so I’m now nursing a 3 year old, almost 2 year old, and a 3 month old.

    • Mollie says:

      Omg that is amazing!!!!! I dont know if I could d that…..but I think I’d try lol!!! Isn’t it awsome to know what our bodies can do sometimes!!!! Keep going lady, mommy’s are amazing!!!!

  12. Lisa Rymer says:

    Love this article, I have nursed both kids until well after 24 month, but my little girl, stopped herself, I was heart broken, I wasn’t ready for our bond to end, pure selfiness On my end, reason, my son and I have a bond like no other and I wanted that same bond. So I applaud when who become so selfless for our blessings.

  13. Melanie says:

    I too always planned to nurse for at least a year. But my little girl turned a year last month and I can’t imagine stopping just yet. Besides my reasons, I don’t think she’s ready yet either. So for now I’m not sure how long we’ll go. Im just taking it a day at a time.

    • Ashley says:

      That was us! My baby wasn’t ready at a year either. I didn’t plan on going past 12 months, but I’m thankful we did!

  14. Shan says:

    thank you for sharing! U defiantly help validate what I have been feeling. My little guy is gonna be a year old and he’s doing some of the things you mentioned above. My goal it to try to go 18 mo. I get comments all the time. But I don’t care. I’m cherishing every moment I get. I am so greatfuk that I even get this opportunity with my son. So many women don’t. Thank you again for sharing. Nice to hear I’m not alone on this!

    • Ashley says:

      Good for you! It’s worth it for people to think you’re a little weird. 🙂 Those memories are ones you will never have again! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  15. Bee a Mom says:

    I agree 100% with everything this post stands for …. And I’m no sheeple. I plan on keep on keeping on with my 15 month old. I hate having to deal with the cultural stigma but it’s not about anyone but me and what’s best for my child. I’ve done the read each from both ends. The world is an ugly place sometimes and will do anything to sell you some formula or milk of another species. There’s so much more than this but let’s keep it light. I, too, had to write up a quick something about bring That Mom. It’s pretty funny you started yours with that too. Great minds, man. Check it out if you like! PS love your writing style. http://www.beeamom.com/breastfeeding-past-one-year/

  16. kristty says:

    I’m nursing my baby girl for the past 22months and the moments that we had was really priceless. there were times that she will smile at me. like she’s trying to tell me “thank you mom”. and those moments really made me cry. she even became a gymnast. trying whatever way just to latch at me when we are about to sleep. our bonding time. and my plan is to keep feeding her as long as i can. 🙂

    • Ashley says:

      haha! That gymnast comment made me giggle! But I can relate. They get so entertaining the older they get. Its so fun! 🙂

  17. Kelli says:

    I have 2 kids. My son, 5, never breastfed but I pumped for about 2 months. My daughter is 15 months old and I’ve breastfed since day one. My original plan was to stop at 6 mos., then 9 mos., then 1 year. Well, we’re still going strong lol! She’s nursing while I’m writing this. It’s become our personal time together. And I can relate to all the cute and silly things that they do at this age while nursing. I know it will end soon and this, too, is my last baby. So I’m just gonna “milk” it as long as I can 🙂

    • Ashley says:

      Haha I love your comment! Yes, its easy to keep pushing back the end lol! 🙂 Cherish it! I’m sure she enjoys it as much as you do!

  18. potter says:

    I nursed for 14 months with my 3 kids. but quit when I got pregnant. Be very careful if you are pregnant and nursing. A womans body that is pregnant needs lots of calcium and nutrients. If you are nursing, pregnant, and your own body needs nourishment it can me harmful to your body. I’m all for nursing after 12 months but if possible avoid if you’re pregnant for you and the babies coming sake.

    • Rachel says:

      There is no danger in continuing to nurse through a normal, healthy pregnancy. The only time it could be an issue is if you are at risk of preterm labor, since the nipple stimulation could cause contractions.

  19. Aisha Johnson says:

    This is very comforting. My baby girl is turning 2 in a few weeks and I am still breastfeeding. I have had that feeling of what will people think of me. She still wants to breastfeed and I so enjoy the bond it has created. My first child got breast milk but because he spit up so much I pumped and gave it to him in a bottle so I could control the amounts and reduce the spit up. This has been such a different experience and it is comforting to know there are other women that share my feelings.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Well said. My first nursed to 21 months when I got pregnant with my 2nd. My 2nd was 18 months and I had to wean due to medical issues. My 3rd we weren’t sure if I would be able to breastfeed at all. She nursed 2.5 years- the last couple times were bittersweet because I knew it was almost over. But we are expecting again so there will be one last nursing.

  21. Paige says:

    I love this post so much. Thank you for sharing the thoughts & feelings that those of us that aren’t as eloquent as you are also felt. Nursing mama high-five!

  22. Michele says:

    I really loved this article and the comments from other Mama’s. My miracle baby was born a month before I turned 39 and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, I had a difficult pregnancy and thought my body wasn’t going to cooperate. After a C-section my milk didn’t come down and I was devastated but determined. It took a few days but finally….LIQUID GOLD!!! I cried when my milk came down, that is how happy I was! My baby girl was sleeping and I couldn’t hardly wait for her to wake up so I could nurse her. She will be 9 months old in a few days and she is still going strong. Some days I feel like her sippy cup because she will only nurse for a minute and continue playing. I plan on nursing for as long as I produce milk and just to make sure I keep producing it I will keep lactation cookies on hand!

  23. Amy says:

    I fed my second until she was just over 2. Unfortunately, I had to stop abruptly due to breast cancer. She’s 3 now and still asks for it from time to time which melts my heart. I think I’d still be going if I had the choice. Beautiful special times 🙂

  24. Theresa says:

    Mom to 10. I nursed my last till she was 2 1/2. It was amazing and inlu wished I had nursed rhe others longer. Out of all my children she adores me & is extremely affectionate. Thank you for the post.

  25. Lora says:

    We also have 4 beautiful babies!!!! 3 girls and 1 boy 🙂 I wanted to nurse all of them to the 12 month mark. With our first I nursed right up to 12 months and had to stop for medical reasons plus I wanted to go ahead and have another baby and we had to use IVF to get pregnant. My second daughter I nursed to 15 months and again I wanted to have another baby so I had to quit to be able to take the meds for IVF. My 3 daughter, who I thought was my last baby, I nursed until 26 months and most people (family) gave me a hard time about it because she was so old. I tried to hide it by only nursing her at home in the morning and at night. We were surprised to find out that we were expecting our 4 baby (A BOY!) without having to use IVF (GOD IS SO AWESOME)!! He is now 27 months old and we both are not ready to quit. He is so sweet and will say “Morn (more) Mama?” and then “I wuv you Mama”. Then he kisses my nose and both checks and gives me the biggest hug. When I let him nurse he says “Thank You Mama”! I always said when they are old enough to ask for it I would quit. Well, I am eating those words and loving it! He is our last baby and I will be sad when this season of motherhood ends, but oh the precious memories I will forever cherish! It is such a different experience to go past the 12 month mark. It is not like you are nursing 8-12 times a day any more. In my experience it is generally not more than 4 times a day and eventually goes down to once a day. I encourage anyone who wishes to nurse past 12 months to definitely give it a try!

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